This copy of the Bustan (Orchard) of the poet Sa’di marries fine nasta’liq text with a sumptuous and seemingly infinite array of color combinations. The colors of text panels, borders, and margins vary; facing leaves do not match. The manuscript contains five paintings done in the style of Bukhara, so the book must have been executed there during the period of Mir ‘Ali’s forced residency
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Fol. 61 v: A polo game.
Inside Front Cover
Book Binding (Rabat)
Illuminated introductory page
Illuminated introductory page.
Darius and the Herdsmen
Fol. 25 v: A stupid man saws off the limb of a tree on which he is sitting, to the amazement of the onlookers.
Fol. 43 r: The Patriarch Abraham entertains a Fire-worshipper at a meal
Fol 80 v: The Sultan of Syria, Malik i Salih, on his throne in the garden, interviewing two dervishes whom he met the evening before in a mosque.
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Title:Bustan (Orchard) of Sa'di
Calligrapher:Mir 'Ali al-Husaini
Author:Sa'di (Iranian, Shiraz ca. 1213–1291 Shiraz)
Date:dated A.H. 929/1522–23 CE
Geography:Attributed to present-day Uzbekistan, Bukhara
Medium:Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper; leather binding
Dimensions:H. 11 1/2 (29.2 cm) W. 7 3/4 in. (19.7cm)
Credit Line:Frederick C. Hewitt Fund, 1911
A Polo Game, Illustration of a Page from the Bustan, folio 61v
Polo appears frequently in Safavid painting, characteristically depicted as a struggle for the ball between two sets of players. The princely figure on horseback who is watching the game has not been identified with certainty. The artist has probably taken some liberties in his depiction of the equipment: the polo sticks seem very thin (though we know from other depictions that they were frequently broken during the game) and the ball rather large. Goal posts, at the bottom of the picture, resemble minarets.
[Asia Society 2004]
Inscription: Location: Chapter 1: "Concerning Justice, Counsel, and the Administration of Government" Translation: Darius, King of Persia, became separated from his retinue while hunting. A herdsman came running towards him, and the king, assuming the man to be an enemy, adjusted his bow. Thereupon the herdman cried, "I am no enemy; seek not to kill me. I am he who tends the king's horses, and in this meadow I am thus engaged." Becoming again composed, the king smiled and said: "Heaved has befriended thee; otherwise would I have drawn the bowstring to my ear." "It showeth neither wise administration nor good judgment," replied the herdsmen, "when the kings knows not an enemy from a friend. Those who are greatest should know those who are least. Many times hast thou seen me in thy presence, and asked of me concerning the horses and they grazing fields. Now that I come again before thee thou takest me for an enemy. More skilled am I, O King, for I can distinguish one horse out of a hundred thousand. Tend thou they people as I, with sense and judgment, tend my horses." Ruin brings sorrow to that kingdom where the wisdom of the shepherd exceeds that of the king. Translation by A. H. Edwards. London, Murray, 1911.
[ Hagop Kevorkian, New York, until 1911; sold to MMA]
New York. The Hagop Kevorkian Special Exhibitions Gallery, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Perfect Page: The Art of Embellishment in Islamic Book Design," May 17–August 18, 1991, no catalogue.
New York. The Hagop Kevorkian Special Exhibitions Gallery, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Sultan Ali of Mashhad, Master of Nasta'liq," January 19–May 27, 2001, no catalogue.
New York. Asia Society. "Asian Games: The Art of Contest," October 14, 2004–January 18, 2005, no. 22:12.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. "Asian Games: The Art of Contest," February 26, 2005–May 15, 2005, no. 22:12.
Middlebury College Museum of Art. "Asian Games: The Art of Contest," September 8, 2005–December 11, 2005, no. 22:12.
New York. The Hagop Kevorkian Special Exhibitions Gallery, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Making the Invisible Visible," April 2–August 4, 2013, no catalogue.
Zurich. Museum Rietberg. "Gardens of the World," May 13, 2016–October 9, 2016, no. 33.
Jackson, A. V. Williams, and A. Yohannan. Catalogue of the Collection of Persian Manuscripts, Including also some Turkish and Arabic, Presented to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York by Alexander Smith Cochran. Columbia University Indo Iranian Series, vol. 1. New York: Columbia University Press, 1912. pp. XVII–XVIII.
Marteau, Georges, and Henri Vever. Miniatures Persanes. Paris: Bibliotheque d'Art et d'Archeologie, 1913.
Mss. Orientaux de la Biblioteque Nationale. 1914–1920. pp. 17, 18, 25, 27, ill.
Schulz, Ph. Walter. Die Persisch-Islamische Miniaturmalerei. Vol. vols. I, II. Leipzig: Hiersemann, 1914. p. 113, (mentioned).
Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Mohammedan Decorative Arts. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1930. pp. 47, 72–73, ill. fig. 17, 31–32, (b/w).
Dimand, Maurice S. Persian Miniatures. A Picture Book. Metropolitan Museum of Art Picture Books. New York, 1940. ill. fig. 17 (b/w).
Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 2nd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. pp. 52, 82, 83, ill. figs. 27, 48–49.
Robinson, Basil William. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Persian Paintings in the Bodleain Library. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958. p. 209.
Grube, Ernst J. "The Early School of Herat and its Impact on Islamic Painting of the Later 15th, the 16th and 17th Centuries." In The Classical Style in Islamic Painting. Venice: Edizioni Oriens, 1968. ill. pl. 46 (b/w).
Ettinghausen, Richard, ed. "Das Pferd in der Orientalischen Kunst." In Europäische Kunstzeitschrift. 1978. ill. p. 70 (color).
Swietochowski, Marie, and Richard Ettinghausen. "Islamic Painting." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., vol. 36, no. 2 (Autumn 1978). p. 24, ill. p. 24 (b/w), fol. 195.
Mackenzie, Colin, and Irving Finkel, ed. Asian Games The Art of Contest. New York: Asia Society, 2004. no. 22:12, p. 293, ill. (color), folio 61 v.
Mackenzie, Colin. "Games as Signifers of Cultural Identity in Asia: Weiqi and Polo." Orientations Vol. 35 #6 (September, 2004). p. 53, ill. fig. 12 (color), fol. 61 verso: A Polo Game.
Lutz, Albert, ed. "Orte der Sehnsucht und Inspiration." In Gärten der Welt. Zürich: Museum Rietberg, 2016. no. 33, pp. 74–75, 301, ill. pl. 75 (color), folio 80v.
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